Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time for a talky one

Anyone who's known me for any length time knows I can be a voracious reader. I'd say 90% of that would be Fantasy because I really just can't get enough of commentary on political systems, governmental policy and organization, and religious institutions in the context of terrifying dark magics, fierce medieval type battles and strange and wonderous creatures. The reason I'm thinking about all this is because one of my favorite authors of all time died.
David Eddings
David Eddings had no illusions about being an all time literary classic author to be venerated through generations. This isn't to say he wasn't talented. He thought of himself as a primer for the greats. Personally, I'd say his greatest talent was his ability to quickly give you almost complete snapshots of likable characters and then elaborate on their inner workings through the sometimes complex relationships as the story goes on to draw you further into the story. I'd easily give credit to this man for inspiring me to be the passionate reader I am. I've actually developed a series of experiences into what really drew me into reading as I do.
I was about 8 years old when my dad (he gets credit for my interest in reading too) decided to read from a five book series by David Eddings called the Belgariad. My strongest memory aside from my rabid interest in the story was impatience because of the slow pace of progression through the story, I just couldn't get enough of it. I went to my father one day and asked him if I could just start the series over and read it myself at my own pace. He just gave me a knowing smile, acquiesced, and handed over the first book, which we as a family had already finished. I proceeded to tear through that in just a few days and began trading off between reading the second book and giving it back so my dad could read it to my brothers each night until I surpassed them, moving on the the third book and finishing that before they even finished the second. I didn't take very long to finish the entire series and proceeded on to reading the Mallorean, a 5 book series that followed after the Belgariad's storyline. After that I was hooked. I read almost everything fantasy or science fiction my dad own, learned what a public library was and by the time I hit the 5th grade the only books that didn't seem overly simple in my estimation in my elementary school library were the collections of Greek Mythology so I dove into those too.
In my 5th grade year I was administered a reading test by a Mrs. White. I remember her as a slightly heavy set woman with voluminous frizzy blonde hair and glasses that seemed halfway beween the enormous, owl-like glasses of the 80s and the sleek, almost as small as possible glasses of the 2000s. She was always nice to me and was going about her business as usual in having me read several pages of a book I thought was my reading level. I chose King of the Murgos book 2 of the Mallorean series by Eddings because that's what I happened to be reading at the time, (easily my 4th or 5th time through the series) and proceeded to read several pages to Mrs. White. The test measured by a knowledge of the definition of a variety of words and their uses in context. Mrs. White couldn't find a single word from my reading selection that I didn't know and and couldn't use in context. She was particularly impressed by a 5th grader's understanding of the word bodice. This memory is so clear I can still pick up that book, King of the Murgos, and pick out the scene I read to her. I actually remembered being embarrassed(unnecessarily) about talking about a bodice, because that's where girls keep their boobies and you're not supposed to talk about those, which I never said out loud but was thinking quite intensely at the time. Upon resolution of the test, Mrs. White was happy to announce I possessed a post college level reading skill with such advanced levels of comprehension and vocabulary, about which I was, of course, esctatic.
After pondering my reading habit I kept track of the number of novels I read over the next calendar year just to see how many I could read. During that year I couldn't go a single day in school without the teacher telling me to put my book away at least 3-4 times, I'd eat through a novel every week, or less. by the end count, during my 6th grade year, I'd reached 56 novels, averaging 3-400 pages each. It didn't seem that unusual to me, but then I was really an introvert at that age, I didn't have a lot of friends that I could compare that to. I still am, but I can shift into extrovert mode when I feel it necessary. As I got older I met people/kids that had never read a single book for pleasure from cover to cover, only class/job required reading and it made me very sad.
These days I don't average this much reading but if so inclined, I'll chew through 4-500 page novel in an afternoon if left undisturbed. Growing up with such a reading habit actually brought all sorts of unlikability to me and frustration to some of my friends. I got to the point I'd say things like discern instead of figure out, or apprehensive instead of nervous and my friends would just give me blank stares or say "wtf man? Speak english" The unlikability came from a combination of correcting other people's grammar while not being discerning enough to know when it was tactful to do so. Now I do it whenever I feel like it and then immediately use terribly grammar to test how closely my friends are paying attention.

So there's my meandering explanation to why I irritate people about their grammar inspired by the death of one of my favorite authors.

Search This Blog, For Crap You Thought You Saw, But Couldn't Find